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Heartbreak & Heroines is a feminist fantasy roleplaying game about adventurous women having awesome adventures.

Heartbreak & Heroines is a feminist fantasy roleplaying game about adventurous women having awesome adventures.

Heartbreak & Heroines is a feminist fantasy roleplaying game about adventurous women having awesome adventures. Read More
pledged of $3,000 goal

Funding Canceled

Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on July 24, 2011.

About this project

We've reached our goal but the kickstarter isn't over!

Wow! We are so grateful for your support for H&H. In less than 48 hours, we reached our $3,000 funding target.

We've been asked, "does that mean that I can't back your project?" and the answer is no, you still can. For one thing, it's a way to ensure you get your copy of H&H as soon as it's ready, and it's the only way to get our backer benefits. Also, we have special bonuses for reaching kickstarter milestones.

Milestone Bonus #2

Therodia, City of Pageants

If we reach the $5,000 milestone, we'll add in a PDF supplement (for $15+ backers) detailing Therodia, the city of pageants. Known for its ostentatious displays and intricate canal systems, Therodia is a bustling seaport and a hub of adventure. Explore the city-state with brave sellsword Kalaira Dastari and discover just who is trying to kidnap Prince Alexis, son of the High Gerent!

Milestone Bonus #1: Unlocked!

Because we reached the $4,000 milestone, everyone who has backed us at the $15 or higher level will receive:

Heartbreak & Heroines: The Big Book of Beastly Bears

B^4 will feature at least 20 different bears you can use as opponents, obstacles, or maybe even just as friends. This will be in addition to the monsters, creatures, and opponents found in the main rulebook.


Heartbreak & Heroines is a fantasy roleplaying game about adventurous women who go and have awesome adventures -- saving the world, falling in love, building community, defeating evil. It's a game about relationships and romance, about fairy tales and feminism.

You play a fantasy heroine (or hero, if you prefer) whose heart has been broken. She's experienced some loss so great that she's taken up her sword, her tome, her staff, or her wand and walked away from her place in society -- by becoming one of its defenders, fighting back the darkness that endangers everyone.

Kalaira Dastari, by Joanne Renaud

The Plan

Funds raised through this Kickstarter project are going toward artwork and production.

Joanne Renaud is our cover and interior artist; she is an illustrator who graduated in illustration from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. She has done work for Simon & Schuster, Random House, Houghton Mifflin, Macmillan-McGraw Hill, Harcourt Inc.,Zaner Bloser, Dark Valentine Magazine, and GOS Multimedia.

Joy Sillesen of StonyHill Productions will be doing editing, layout, and cover design. Her past and current clients include Samhain Publishing, Pink Petal Books, the City of Glendora, Pasadena City College, Primedia Enthusiast Publishing, the Showstopper Lifestyle, the Huntington Library Press, and Demand Media Studios.

The game book will also feature tips and advice from a number of interviews with women gamers -- on topics such as how to roleplay, how to GM, how to create NPCs, how to build a world, how to establish a character's background, and so on. I'm really enjoying the opportunity to talk to a number of gamers and hear their enthusiasm for this hobby.

The Game Mechanics

The system for H&H is a refinement and evolution of one developed in Wandering Monsters High School. (It has no special name like "the 2d6 system" because that seems kind of silly to me.)

In WMHS, you had six "grades" ranked from A to F in things like Hygiene, Occult, and Scholastics. When you needed to roll dice, you grabbed a number of dice equal to the grade point (A = 4, B = 3, etc.) and rolled, counting only the two highest dice.

This was matched against a target number based on difficulty. Easy tasks (like passing a note past a distracted lich teacher) were 5 or 7, hard things (scoring the final basket of gnome-skull slamball as the gong goes off from 50 feet away) were 9 or 11 or whatever.

The classes you took (such as "Wandering 101," "Alchemy," or "Armor Class") and your extra-curricular activities (yearbook, cheerleading team, Papers & Paychecks club) gave you bonuses on your die rolls. Instead of adding to the results, they gave you virtual dice pre-set to a given number.

Example: Alchemy class gives you a "3" bonus on checks to brew up a potion (Occult check) in the pharmaceuticals lab. If you've got an A in Occult, you roll 4 dice. You also include a fifth virtual die with a roll of 3. From all five dice, you choose the two highest and add them together, and that's your result on your Occult check.

The Heartbreak & Heroines system is similar to this. I want H&H to be relatively quick to pick up and run, and not have too many moving parts. So you've got three Aspects that determine how many dice (from 1 to 5) you roll, you've got Facets that customize your character, you've got Edges that give bonuses on your rolls, you've got a Species ("race") and an Archetype ("class"), you've got energy points that fuel your special abilities and powers, you've got a damage track in case you get hurt, and you've got Bonds with other players, NPCs, and groups.

Why H&H?

My friend Dwayne McDuffie passed away earlier this year. He was a comic book and animation writer who loved comics -- but also saw they didn't reflect his life as an African American man. Instead of writing a lot of essays and making blog posts (although he did both at times), he and went founded Milestone Media to create the kind of comics he wanted to enjoy. By doing so, Dwayne changed the comics industry and left a legacy that won't be forgotten by fans of Static, Icon, Justice League, Ben 10, and other comics and animation properties.

I'm no Dwayne McDuffie, but I do want to change gaming by making it more inclusive -- of women, people of color, LGBT people, and basically everyone. Using Dwayne as my model, I don't want to just talk about inclusive gaming, I want to make and play games that push the window on inclusion.

Heartbreak & Heroines is first and foremost a fantasy adventure game. It's not preachy and it isn't a textbook about feminism, but it's written from a feminist point of view. It challenges some of our assumptions about the role of gender in gaming but at the heart of H&H, it's about being a heroine (or hero) and finding your way to happiness in a dangerous world. I hope to produce something that Dwayne would have enjoyed reading.


  • Yep! This weekend was taken up with getting the financial logistics -- cleared through Amazon, etc -- worked out, but we'll be posting some game mechanics (and setting info!) soon. We know that's important to many of you, and we agree. So expect to see those in a day or two.

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  • Nah. I'm saying this is the game I'm making -- because it's the game I want to play. Certainly this isn't the be-all and end-all of women in RPGs, nor is it meant to be. It's not even the last word on feminism in gaming, or the first word.

    It's just my word, and I feel that I can best present my point of view through creation of roleplaying game with themes that I'd enjoy playing. If you're interested in helping explore these themes, come along with me -- and write your own game, or your own blog, or share your thoughts.

    If you're female or male (or anyone else) and you aren't interested in feminist romance/adventure in your RPGs, then this won't be the game for you. Thankfully, there are plenty of other awesome games in this hobby, many of which I really enjoy playing myself.

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  • Yup. In fact, that's why the name of the game has "heartbreak" in it.

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  • Sure, that would be pretty sexist if that's what we were saying. But it's not. "Heartbreak" here doesn't refer exclusively (or even primarily) to romantic relationships, and H&H characters are not limited to women.

    The concept of "heartbreak" can include the death of a best friend, the destruction of one's ancestral homeland, being denied entry to the school of your choice, or having your cat change into a giant were-dragon-lion thing that you have to kill before it eats your neighborhood.

    "Heartbreak" is about why you leave behind the life of a peasant, a farmer, a cook, a princess, a soldier, or a student, and become an adventurer -- when you're likely to die a horrible death from risking your life against terrifying monsters.

    The point is to give core motivations for what your Heroine does -- and that applies to both male and female Heroines (and Heroines who are neither male or female). Every Heroine in this game has a Heartbreak, not just the women.

    You know who else is motivated by past Heartbreak, a tragic, life-shattering event? Batman. Point made?

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  • Guys, you're welcome to play, and play a character of any gender. Even male characters. The game uses "Heroine" as a reserved word to mean "Player Character," and while that's a deliberate choice, there is nothing wrong with playing as manly of a manly man as you like. (Just to note, at time of writing, something like 75% of the kickstarter's backers seem to be men.)

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  • Pat Benatar.

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Funding period

- (30 days)